Teaching American History

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New York 2009 Grant Abstracts
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Grantee Name:Albion Central School District
Project Name:Setting Our Sites on History: Using Historical Museums and Landmarks to Teach American History
Project Director:Laura Rog
Funding:$1,456,279 over 5 years
Number of Teachers Served Overall:125
Number of School Districts Served:13
Grade Levels:K-5
Partners:Buffalo State College, Documentary Heritage Program, Buffalo Museum of Science, Old Fort Niagara, Niagara County Historical Society, Buffalo and Erie County Historical Society, Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Amherst Museum, Darwin Martin House, Nash House
Topics:Native Americans, soldiers, pioneers, immigrants, women, children, the working class, African Americans
Methods:Monthly sessions, workshops, summer institutes

In these western New York state districts, teachers have few opportunities for history professional development and, because of state certification requirements, most have little formal preparation in American history. Setting Our Sites on History (Setting Our Sites) will address teachers' needs with 90 hours of professional development in a yearlong program: eight school-day workshops to present content, three Saturday workshops to design service learning activities, and a 4-day residential summer institute in Washington, D.C. to link local themes into a national framework. Historians and a regional archivist will present content in a site-based learning format, with sessions to be held at museums and historical landmarks. Each annual cohort of 25 teachers will be joined by future teachers of social studies from Buffalo State College—either in classrooms as student teachers or in project activities. Setting Our Sites will explore the ramifications and ideas behind the American ideal of “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” This theme will link an exploration of the experiences of eight groups of people in American history who have struggled for and among one another for full rights (Native Americans, soldiers, pioneers, immigrants, women, children, the working class and African Americans). Instructional strategies will include a focus on service learning, which will have teachers design activities to engage students with local and national history. After completing the year-long training, teachers will mentor their colleagues to improve history teaching and employ service learning to build the collections of and interactions with historical sites and museums.

Grantee Name:Carl C. Icahn Charter School
Project Name:Fundamentals of American History
Project Director:Daniel Garcia
Funding:$831,535 over 5 years
Number of Teachers Served Overall:87
Number of School Districts Served:8
Grade Levels:4, 7, 8
Partners:Columbia University, Learning through an Expanded Arts Program (LEAP)
Topics:Colonization, Settlement, and Communities (1607-1763); The Revolution and the New Nation (1763-1815); Expansion and Reform (1801-1861); Historic Players and Documents
Methods:Workshops, panel discussions, readings, site visits, Professional Learning Communities

The eight charter schools participating in this grant are in the Bronx, New York. Nearly 100 percent of their students are ethnic minorities, and program activities will reflect a multicultural perspective. Each year, the professional development program will include eight 3-hour sessions during the school year, 6 hours of classroom modeling, four 5-hour summer sessions, and a variety of Web-based activities. Because elementary and middle school teachers are least likely to have formal history preparation, they will be the target audience for grant activities. Each year a new group of teachers will enter the project. Beginning in Year 2, 10 teachers from the previous year will stay on for two additional years and some of these will evolve into trainers. The underlying theme of collaboration and learning community is designed to build a network that the participating schools can use to sustain the project's impact. Fundamentals of American History will focus on early American history (1600s-1860s) to meet needs identified by teachers. Content spiraling will ensure that vital subject areas are revisited each year as new teachers enter the program. Instructional strategies will include building history skill sets, reviewing student work and conducting ongoing assessment, using peer support and self-reflection (both face-to-face and online), conducting historical research, and employing multimedia and Web-based activities. The project will produce a cadre of well-prepared history teachers who can support their colleagues and strengthen American history teaching and learning.

Grantee Name:Community School District 3
Project Name:Becoming Historians: Teaching American History in the Elementary School
Project Director:Terri Ruyter
Funding:$1,666,535 over 5 years
Number of Teachers Served Overall:150
Number of School Districts Served:6
Grade Levels:4-5
Partners:Columbia University, Barnard College, Museum of the City of New York, New York Historical Society, American Museum of Natural History
Topics:Year 1: Economic and Technological Changes
Years 2 and 4: Change and Continuity in American Democracy
Year 3 and 5: The Gathering and Interactions of People, Cultures, and Ideas
Methods:Summer institutes, colloquia, site visits, Professional Learning Communities

Becoming Historians is designed to improve instruction in American history in a cross section of elementary schools in New York City's Community School Districts 1-6 in the Borough of Manhattan, with a particular focus on those schools designated as being in need of improvement, where 44 percent of fifth grade students are scoring below grade-level expectations on the state social studies assessment. To nurture teachers' historical “habits of mind,” several professional development activities will be offered each year: a weeklong summer institute; five day-long sessions that include a colloquium with a historian, discussion of scholarly tests, work with primary sources, visits to local cultural institutions, and development of lessons aligned with city and state content and history standards for grades 4 and 5; and collegial sharing with teachers at participants' home schools through the creation of professional learning communities. Also, the districts will work with schools to update American history curricula and implement academic and structural interventions to improve student achievement. Each year for the first three years of the program, 25 fourth grade teachers and 25 fifth grade teachers will join. Every teacher will be encouraged to participate for the life of the program. Teachers will explore the development of American democracy from the founding of the nation to the beginning of the 21st Century. They will use inquiry and project-based learning to engage students in analysis and interpretation of historical events and issues. A project Web site will provide a venue for the sharing of ideas, information, resources, and teacher-created lesson plans and curriculum guides.

Grantee Name:Community School District 31
Project Name:History for All: Improving U.S. History Knowledge for Teachers of Special Education and Mainstream Students
Project Director:Deborah Nasta
Funding:$1,655,152 over 5 years
Number of Teachers Served Overall:50
Number of School Districts Served:5
Grade Levels:4-5, 7-8, 11
Partners:City University of New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Education Development Center
Topics:Years 1 and 4: Claiming Liberty (American Revolution, Slavery, Civil War, Reconstruction, Black Freedom Struggles)
Years 2 and 5: Peopling and Building the Nation (Colonial New York, Mid-19th-Century Irish Immigration, Early Industrialization, Chinese Immigration, Ellis Island Immigration)
Year 3: Growing into Modernity (Late 19th-Century Industrial Society, Progressive Era, Great Depression and New Deal)
Methods:Summer institutes, seminars, after-school meetings, coaching

Community School District 31 has joined with four other New York City school districts in Brooklyn and Staten Island with a significant immigrant population to implement History for All. Thirty-five percent of the districts' schools have been cited for intervention due to substandard academic achievement, and pass rates on U.S. history exams is particularly low for special education students (27 percent, compared to 63 percent for general education students). Teachers who teach special education students in self-contained and/or inclusive settings will receive 68 hours of professional development annually: four day-long seminars; a week-long summer institute, led by historians, during which teachers will develop classroom activities; and seven monthly after-school meetings during which participants can share experiences and pedagogical approaches and learn to integrate technology, assessment, and fiction and nonfiction. Classroom coaching from the project director will help teachers refine project-based activities. The program will recruit 50 teachers for Years 1-3 and 40 for Years 4-5. All will be trained to lead professional development for other teachers in their schools and districts, and 10 members of the first cohort will join the second cohort and act as lead teachers to support their turnkey training efforts. Historical content will emphasize how Americans of different eras have struggled with and shaped the meaning of democracy in the United States. Teachers will learn to integrate art and material culture into their teaching of history through the use of differentiated instruction and universal design. All participating teachers will become part of a professional development cadre and will distribute classroom-tested activities online.

Grantee Name:Corning-Painted Post Area School District
Project Name:Freedom and Rights
Project Director:Ted DeVoe
Funding:$1,689,157 over 5 years
Number of Teachers Served Overall:175
Number of School Districts Served:8
Grade Levels:K-12
Partners:National Council for History Education, Smithsonian Institution, Cornell University, Corning Museum of Glass, Rockwell Museum
Topics:Year 1: Foundation of Freedom (1760-1800)
Year 2: The Limits of Freedom (1800-1865)
Year 3: Expanding Freedom (1865-1910)
Year 4: Protecting Freedom (1910-1950)
Year 5: Modern Expressions of Freedom (1950-present)
Methods:Colloquia, seminar series, summer institutes, peer education forum

Freedom and Rights will serve a mainly rural area of western New York, targeting schools where as many as 58 percent of middle school students and 32 percent of high school students fall short of social studies standards. Many teachers need to expand their American history knowledge and build instructional skills. Annual activities will include two 3-day seminars that focus on key individuals; two 3-day colloquia that focus on social, economic, and political events/movements; and one 5-day summer institute that expands on previous studies and focuses on the rights and struggles of minority groups. Project leaders will recruit teachers from schools with the greatest needs and admit other teachers as space permits. All school levels will work together to reduce historical isolation. Participants will be encouraged, but not required, to attend as many events as possible; continuing education credits will be available to teachers who complete a certain number of hours and activities. As its name suggests, this project's theme expands on the founding principle of liberty and justice for all. It will engage teachers in the investigation of individual liberty and the protection of freedom throughout American history to help students understand current events and the country's historical development. Academic historians, museum specialists, and education experts will lead experiences that deliver content knowledge and research-based teaching strategies, exercises and lesson plans that integrate advanced knowledge. In addition, teachers will also learn about integrating technology into teaching and learning. Project leaders intend to make information about the project available to others who might wish to replicate the project.

Grantee Name:New York City Department of Education
Project Name:Telling America's Story: Traditional American History through Media and Literacy
Project Director:Brian Scott Carlin
Funding:$1,665,815 over 5 years
Number of Teachers Served Overall:125
Number of School Districts Served:3
Grade Levels:7, 8, 11
Partners:Museum of the City of New York, New York Historical Society, Paley Center for Media, National Archives and Records Administration - Northeast Region, Organization of American Historians, Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History
Topics:The Colonial Era; The American Revolution; The New Nation: The Making of the Empire City; The Civil War: New York, a Southern City; The Progressive Era: The Work and Legacy of Jacob Riis; America's City: Social Inequality on the Lower East Side and Gramercy Park; The Great Depression: New Deal in New York; Civil Rights Movement: The Segregated North and the Civil Rights Movement in New York City
Methods:Summer institute, workshops, lectures, study groups/peer coaching, museum visits, turnkey training

Telling America's Story will target 24 Title I schools in need of improvement within Community School Districts 8, 11, and 12 in the Bronx, where student performance has been extremely poor on New York's standardized history assessments and more than a fourth of all teachers are teaching without valid certification or outside of their subject certifications. Participating teachers from these schools will engage in the following professional development activities each year: eight full-day Saturday workshops featuring content lectures and pedagogy sessions at various museums and historic sites, four workshops on American film, four lectures by professional historians, two monthly school-based study group/peer coaching meetings, and a culminating 4-day summer institute on creating curriculum. Teachers will also receive free passes to 30 local museums and laptops for networking and curriculum development. A new cohort of 25 teachers will participate each year. Those teachers who “graduate” will then become teacher-historians who facilitate on-site project activities within their schools. The thematic focus will be on how historical events and times have shaped America's current and past social, political, and economic values, especially as viewed through the lens of New York City. Teachers will learn to stimulate historical thinking and analysis as they integrate traditional media (film, television, radio, and literature) and interactive literacy techniques such as blogs into the delivery of American history content, making history accessible to all, including poor readers and nonreaders within their classrooms. Classroom-ready media, presentations, and lessons created during Telling America's Story will be disseminated via a program Web site.

Grantee Name:New York City Department of Education
Project Name:American Dream: A Teaching American History Grant for Elementary and Middle Schools in Need of Improvement
Project Director:Elise Abegg
Funding:$3,261,274 over 5 years
Number of Teachers Served Overall:150 teacher leaders and up to 3,180 teachers
Number of School Districts Served:1
Grade Levels:4-5, 7-8
Partners:Gotham Center for New York City History, City Lore, Historic House Trust of New York City, New York Historical Society, Brooklyn Historical Society, Henry Street Settlement, Museum of the City of New York, Paley Center for Media
Topics:Year 1: What Is the American Dream?
Year 2: The American Dream Begins: Native Americans, Colonization, The New Nation
Year 3: The American Dream Is Challenged: Westward Expansion, Slavery and Resistance, Civil War and Reconstruction
Year 4: The American Dream and the Development of Modern America: Immigration and Industrialization
Year 5: The American Dream in Contemporary America (1945-present)
Methods:Leadership onferences, summer and winter institutes, citywide history conference, lecture series, workshop series, book club, film club

Through the American Dream program, the New York City Department of Education (the largest school district in the country) will engage American history teachers in the city's 461 struggling elementary and middle schools. Only 30 percent of the city's eighth graders passed the state's latest social studies assessment. American Dream will seek to reach all 461 schools, with every teacher invited to participate in one or more program layers. Up to 150 teachers will participate in an intensive teacher leadership program, 90 of whom will attend an inaugural conference in Year 1. In each subsequent year, these and additional teacher-leaders will complete 72 hours of leadership development training, original research, curriculum development, and vertical team planning projects, run an American history conference for 100 teachers from around the city, and establish and maintain school-based American history resource rooms. Rigorous, but less intensive, instruction will be offered to the rest of the schools' history teachers through the Becoming Historians lecture series (Year 1), a quarterly evening lecture series, a quarterly workshop series at historical houses, a quarterly book club, and a film club. Through the lens of the American Dream, the program will explore defining moments in American history, from the time before European colonization through modern times. Teacher-leaders will be trained to provide professional development on innovative, developmentally appropriate teaching strategies that integrate technology and develop students' research, analysis, and presentation skills. Successful strategies and curricular units developed through the program will be disseminated citywide. In addition, teacher leaders will maintain American history resource rooms in their schools.

Grantee Name:North Syracuse Central School District
Project Name:Project HISTORY: Historians' In-service; Standards; Technology integration; and Outside Resources Yearly
Project Director:Dr. James J. Carroll
Funding:$1,795,511 over 5 years
Number of Teachers Served Overall:60
Number of School Districts Served:8
Grade Levels:5, 7, 8, 11
Partners:Syracuse University, Erie Canal Museum, Everson Museum, Onondaga Historical Association Museum, Sainte Marie Among the Iroquois Museum
Topics:Beginning to 1607; Colonization, Settlement, and Communities, 1607-1763; The Revolution and the New Nation, 1763-1815; Expansion and Reform, 1801-1861; Crisis and the Union: Civil War and Reconstruction, 1850-1877; Development of Modern America, 1865-1920; Modern America and the World Wars, 1914-1945; Contemporary America, 1945-present
Methods:Summer and afterschool workshops, release days, field visits

Project HISTORY includes eight districts in central New York, and each district has at least one school in need of improvement or corrective action. Scores on U.S. history and social studies tests have been declining across all school levels, and performance drops on the high-stakes 11th-grade test have been especially worrisome. This project will provide 150 hours of professional development to each participating teacher through seminars, summer and afterschool workshops, museum visits, and five release days during each school year. Two cadres of 30 elementary, middle, and high school teachers will participate for 30 months each and complete the same curriculum. Project HISTORY intends to help teachers master historical thinking skills and transfer those skills to students. To support this effort, seminar content and teacher-created WebQuest lessons will be aligned with state standards. Teachers will engage in technology-supported problem-based learning, historical role play, analysis of original historical documents, including works of art contemporary to important events, and exploration of local historical sites and resources. By the end of the project, teachers will have created a collection of technology-based lessons and planned actual and virtual field trips for students.

Grantee Name:Putnam/Northern Westchester BOCES
Project Name:Beyond the Textbook: Exploring American History
Project Director:Marla Gardner
Funding:$1,684,707 over 5 years
Number of Teachers Served Overall:50
Number of School Districts Served:28
Grade Levels:K-12
Partners:Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, Lehman College, Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum
Topics:Year 1: The Quest for Equality
Year 2: The Presidents: Interpretations of Constitutional Powers
Year 3: From Neutrality to Superpower
Year 4: The History of Working in America
Year 5: The Supreme Court Confronts Issues in America
Methods:Yearly kick-off event, in-service workshops, summer institutes, independent assignments, online discussions, lesson development, field trips, mentoring

Beyond the Textbook: Exploring American History (Beyond) will help teachers in New York's Lower Hudson Valley to rediscover the practice of historical inquiry; the grant's service area includes a middle school in need of improvement, and the history teachers there will be especially encouraged to participate. Each year, participating teachers will engage in professional development that helps them explore historical topics and methods in depth: an October kick-off event during which participants are assigned to small-group learning communities and receive the year's readings, two full-day in-service workshops and one after-school workshop on content and pedagogy, a 5-day summer institute featuring lectures and collaborative lesson development, two independent assignments, and two day-long field trips. All activities will be aligned to the Beyond blueprint, a description of the ideal history classroom that is based on the Concerns-Based Adoption Model. A program Wiki will enable teachers to participate in threaded discussions about their independent reading assignments. A single cohort of 50 teachers will take part in the program for all five years. Topics for each year will be aligned to state history standards, and the thematic focus will be on unraveling the tangled issues of history, such as the confluence of personal, racial, cultural, and societal forces that produced the Peekskill Riots of 1949. Teachers will learn to make history relevant to young people through the use of primary source documents, historical inquiry, debates, Socratic seminars, and technology tools. A project Web site will feature recordings of content presentations, teacher-developed lessons, and pictures and handouts from content and pedagogy sessions.

Grantee Name:Rochester City School District
Project Name:Elementary Historians
Project Director:Dr. Jennifer Gkourlias
Funding:$1,666,665 over 5 years
Number of Teachers Served Overall:100
Number of School Districts Served:1
Grade Levels:K-6
Partners:State University of New York at Brockport, University of Rochester Memorial Art Gallery, Rochester Museum and Science Center, St. John Fisher College
Topics:Year 1: History as Inquiry
Year 2: Defining Our Independence
Year 3: Immigration
Year 4: Migration
Year 5: Social Movements
Methods:Summer institutes, content seminars, classroom coaching, field experiences

Rochester ranks highest among New York State's urban districts for poverty, and its mainly non-White students speak more than 35 languages. Six district elementary schools are designated as in need of improvement, and 30 percent of district social studies teachers have less than three years of teaching experience. Each year, Elementary Historians will provide a 20-hour summer institute, on-site coaching, and four 2-hour theme-based lectures with hands-on exploration of documents and artifacts and lesson development. The participant cohort will emphasize fourth and fifth grade teachers, with a goal of reaching 100 percent of such teachers in the six neediest schools and 30 percent of such teachers across the district. Bilingual and special education teachers, certified library media specialists, reading coaches, art and music teachers, and English language arts specialists will be invited to participate if space permits. The project will focus on building a bridge between teachers, historians, and students, and on connecting schools to community institutions. In addition to university and local historians, full-time content area coaches will work with participants. These coaches will deliver school-based strategic teaching sessions and model classrooms to help teachers transfer what they learn to their practice. Strategies will include using primary documents and historical thinking skills to help students recognize connections between historic and present-day events. The project will establish an ongoing teacher resource library, and participants will develop lesson plans that align with state standards and employ engaging, research-based strategies. All workshops will be videotaped and mounted on the district's intranet, where all teachers can access the content and discussions.

Last Modified: 09/10/2009